Tag Archives: Success

The low point of a Culture Shock experience – judging the other

In our day-to-day life we often pass judgments on other people without even noticing that we do.  We judge and we compare ourselves to others.  We compare achievements; we compare appearance; we compare education and intellect; we even compare social behavior and social acceptance.  Remember Susan Boyle?  Remember how everyone judged her by what she looked like, by what romantic experience she had (or didn’t have), and by the dream she dared to have (in her age and with her looks!).

It’s similar with cultures.  We judge each new culture and its people from the point of view of how it compares to our own.  That especially becomes true if are in the grips of Culture Shock and nothing is going right.  However, each comparison is ultimately an illusion – an illusion that creates either a superiority or inferiority complex.  Both these complexes contribute to misunderstandings between people; prevent them from truly knowing each other, and make it this much harder to build bridges and friendships.  If you judge someone to be better than you, how easy is it going to be for you to establish the connection?  Or, if you judge that person to be worse than you, would you even want to make a connection?  The process of judging doesn’t only make you feel bad, but it also robs you of an opportunity to open your mind and soul to an experience that can change your life.  It stops you from enjoying new things from an “uncluttered” — from judgments — perspective.

Being in judgment is one of the horsemen of apocalypse as identified by Dr. John Gottman in his research on successful marriages  and in his book, 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work.  Gottman says that allowing this horseman to run rampant and allowing it to persist in a marriage pretty much dooms the marriage.   It’s similar with cultures.  If you keep judging a culture and its people, you’ll never “make friends” with it/them and, thus, you’ll never adjust enough to live a happy life there.

So stay judgment-free.  Consider everyone and everything as it comes into your life – new, exciting, and full of possibilities to explore.

And if you need any help with this and with Culture Shock, have a look at our Culture Shock Tool Kit E-book where we offer 3 tips on how to manage Culture Shock (some tips are based on Dr. Gottman’s research).  Available in English, Russian, Spanish, and French!

Introducing QATAR

Qatar is one of the countries that’s profiled in the Global Coach Center Academy within the course “Living and Working in Qatar” In this post we interview one of the course’s co-trainers on some of the most interesting tidbits on Qatar.

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a writer and educator who has lived in Qatar since 2005. A scholar of literature, she has a PhD from the University of Florida with a focus on gender and postcolonial theory. Her work has been published in AudioFile Magazine, Explore Qatar, Woman Today, The Woman, Writers and Artists Yearbook, QatarClick, and Qatar Explorer. She has been a guest on Expat Radio, and was the host for two seasons of the Cover to Cover book show on Qatar Foundation Radio. She is the Associate Editor of Vox, a fashion and lifestyle magazine published by Vodafone Qatar. Currently Mohana is working on a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf and a novel based in Qatar. She believes words can help us understand ourselves and others. Catch up on her latest via her blog or follow her on Twitter @moha_doha.

Global Coach Center Blog (GCC Blog):  What would be 1 to 3 tips you’d give to someone who is moving to Qatar?


  • Be prepared for heat for 4 months of the year (May – August)
  • Ramadan is a time when restuarants are closed during the day and most shops; plan ahead and avoid driving on the roads at peak times
  • Make the effort to get outside of your ex-pat work/compound bubble to meet new people

GCC Blog:  What was the funniest cultural misunderstanding you’ve experienced in Qatar?

Mohana:  People often think that the five pressed together fingers — which is a symbol to wait — is an insult or rude gesture.

GCC Blog:  What’s the most popular proverb and why?

Mohana:  There are so many Arabic proverbs but one of my favorites is “one hand cannot clap” meaning that teamwork is important.

GCC Blog:  What do you love about Qatar?

Mohana: Qatar is booming and everyone from Hillary Clinton to Wycleaf Jean has come through Doha in the last five years that I’ve been here.

GCC Blog:  What do you dislike about living in Qatar?

Mohana:  The pressures of living in a city that is still being built (new buildings, new roads, the sounds of construction) can sometimes be frustrating.

On June 9, 2011 Global Coach Center and Mohana hosted a free teleclass on “Culture Tips for Qatar”.  Please listen to the recording here.

Working across cultures – difficult or different or both?

How often do you hear similar sentiments expressed by expat managers and team leaders working across cultures:

  • There is zero initiative among my staff. 
  • No one knows how to follow up and deliver on time – I spend half of my week every week requesting things that have been long overdue!
  • All meetings that I have ever attended have been interrupted by at least one cell phone call – and the recipient always took it!
  • Even though I have a separate office (and close the door!), I find myself constantly interrupted by people dropping in to ask me (or tell me) something.
  • A meeting that should last an hour often goes for 3 hours.  It’s so difficult to get people to stay on topic and come to the point.

These examples of frustrations I hear from clients all point to how difficult – and different – it can be to create something together when working with people from diverse cultures.  The words difficult and different represent two different (no pun intended) perspectives of looking at this challenge.

If we look at it from the point of view of “how difficult” it is and nothing else, frustration, hopelessness, and an overwhelming desire to go home drive all of our actions and responses.

If we look at it as “difficult and different” we open up for the possibility of creating out of the difficult by looking at and considering the differences.  How can we create out of what’s different here?

Creating out of the differences requires not only this open-minded perspective but also a good knowledge of where the differences lie — it requires Culture Mastery:

  • What cultural preferences do you and your colleagues differ on?
  • How big/small is the gap?
  • How possible is it for you to adjust your cultural preferences – that is, will it infringe on your values/identity or will it simply be about changing your habits?
  • What cultural alliances can you create to be more effective?

What has been your experience in creating from the different and the difficult?

NEW at the Global Coach Center: Culture Mastery Course (online) that specifically addresses challenges described in the post above.

Copyright © 2011 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

Accompanying spouse and career – what’s the motivation?

Why do we work?  What makes us want to work?  And what makes us feel sad when we don’t work?

In today’s economic reality, some of us may answer above questions with a simple “I have to put food on the table and provide for my family” answer.  And while this is a very valid point, I am not going to focus on money being the reason for work in this blog post.  Instead, I want to talk about what motivates us to have professional lives.

For many an expat – and here I mean the accompanying spouses – the reality is such that we don’t have to work.  Don’t have as in don’t-have-the-necessity-of-having-the-additional-income-in-the-family for the family to live comfortably.  Yet many of us long to have a professional life abroad, especially if we had to leave out jobs behind, when we moved.

So what motivates us to long for it?

  • Desire to grow?
  • Habit?
  • Fears (like the fear of not having something to do with our time or the fear of not being enough or the fear of being perceived as someone lazy or the fear of losing ourselves)?

How often do we really know what’s motivating us?  How often do we take the time to find out?

The reason I bring this up is that sometimes we want to work for all the wrong reasons – and we suffer internally (if we cannot work) for all the wrong reasons.  So until we shine a bright light on our real motivators for wanting work, we’ll continue holding onto the old habits and old attitudes towards work, even if those are not working out for us.

Here is one exercise to help you learn your real motivators for wanting a professional life:

I.  Answer the following questions:

  • What is important to me about having a job?
  • What is important to me about having a career path/professional life?
  • What do I look for in my professional life?  Without the presence of what will my professional life lack meaning?
  • What’s disconcerting about not having a job?
  • What’s disconcerting about not having a career?

2.  All humans can divided into those who mainly get motivated by away factors, those that mainly get motivated by toward factors, and those who get motivated by both.  The away factors sound similar to this:

  • “I want to work so that I don’t have to ask my spouse for spending money.”
  • “I am working so that I am never going to be poor.”
  • “I am starting a new business so that no one can say I am doing nothing with my time.”

The toward factors sound similar to this:

  • “I want to work so that I can buy myself whatever I want.”
  • “I am looking for a new job so that I can get more challenged.”
  • “I want my own business so that I can be my own boss and can be as creative as I want.”

Looking at your answers to questions above, gauge whether or not you are motivated mainly by away factors, towards factors, or both.  Usually the away factors, while having a place in our lives, don’t last and are not as compelling as the toward factors.  The away factors display our saboteur thinking and provide a negative-energy-filled pull towards having a career.  How valid is that thinking in your life now?  And what would you be without that thinking?

So what is at the heart of you wanting to work and have a career overseas?

People who read this post also enjoyed:

Trailing and not failing: how our relationships sustain us in expatriation?

What do expats need to stay?

Expat entrepreneur? Who is your ideal client?

Copyright © 2011 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

Completing 2010 and looking forward to 2011

There are a lot of rituals one can use right before the New Year.  The one I am going to describe here is among my favorites because through it we get to clear out and learn from the past year and position ourselves to receive the gifts of the future year.

How?  We are going to complete the old year and consciously design the new.  Now, completing doesn’t always mean that things are finished, or that things are wonderful.  Rather, completing is about making things whole, or fully letting things be as they are, or as they are not and making an emotional peace with it. When something is incomplete, it drains energy from us, and hangs around like a ghost. When we complete with something or someone, we take that energy back.

It’s also about cleaning up to make space for the new.  When you clean up the energy of those ghosts and those things that are weighing you down, you make space for new things to come into your life.  You accept a loss, or celebrate a win, or you just simply decide to complete the incomplete.

And then you move on to creating the vision for the New Year.  You take the lessons, take your inspiration, and take your wishes and you outline what you want from the next year.

So let’s begin!

Take a sheet of paper and:

1.     List all of your Wins, Gains, and Breakthroughs. How did you celebrate them?  How are you going to celebrate the ones you didn’t celebrate yet?

2.     List all of your Losses, Disappointments, and Breakdowns.

  • Mark each one to see if you are complete or incomplete in accepting them, and set a date to complete that acceptance. (You might not know how you are going to complete but that’s not important right now — just set a date.)
  • Look at 3-5 lessons you have learned this past year that you want to carry into 2011. When thinking of what to include, remember that you want to consciously use these lessons in the coming year.

3.     Imagine ahead to December 2011

  • Write a list of your Wins, Gains, and Breakthroughs for 2011.  Be specific and write them as though they have already happened.
  • Give the year to come a Name. If next year was a movie, what would its title be? (For instance: Year of “Life is Delicious!”, Year of “No Kidding”)

Share the name of your year in the comments section, please!

If you’d like to hear someone getting coached through this process, listen to our recent ExpatsRadio program here.

And improve your expat life in 2011 by joining our Expat Club: 10 Weeks of Wisdom Program. It has been specifically designed around expatriate issues and concerns and it’ll help you feel supported, encouraged, and inspired. Sign up here.

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

The wisest decision — #Reverb10

The process of looking at the past year and thinking of what the next will bring continues…  (courtesy of a very cool project — #Reverb10)

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

The last thing I made was a painting that I painted together with my daughter for my father’s birthday.  This was our first oil on canvas creation and it was fun to see it emerge.

December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

The 2010 for me was the year of the online community.  This year I created the Facebook page for expatriates, I improved the LinkedIn Group “Ask a Cross-Cultural and Expatriate Coach”, I grew my blog subscription (also a bit of a group), and I joined pages and groups that were interesting.  In 2011 I’d love to connect closer with an artists’ community.

December 8 — Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

My magic is in the energy of Tinker bell.  The mischief coupled with kindness and ability to see the light of each person I come in contact with are what make me different.

December 10 – Wisdom.  What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

The wisest decision I made last year was to remember to treat myself to things I’ve always wanted to do and never allowed myself to – and along with that, to realize that I am so much more than what the outside world defines me to be.  So far treating myself resulted in signing up for a painting class, giving myself a break from work when my body and soul tell me to, and taking a few tennis lessons.

Taking this step of considering myself was so profound that I wanted to bring it to other people.  So I created an Expat Club: 10 Weeks of Wisdom Program that other expatriates can take and see what unravels for them.

December 13 – When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

My next step is in line with treating myself… this time to a no-work-and-no-computer-at-all week.  I need to recharge.

Remember we are still registering for the Expat Club: 10 Weeks of Wisdom program. It has been specifically designed around expatriate issues and concerns and it’ll help you feel supported, encouraged, and inspired. Sign up here.

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!


First few days — #Reverb10

Although I am a little late in starting, this seems like a fascinating process to go through before the new year.  If it sounds interesting to you, join them at Reverb10.

Here are my answers to the first 5 prompts:

December 1:  Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

My 2010 word is running.  This entire year, it seems, has passed running from one thing to another, attempting to cramp too much into my days, and working to carry more than I can handle.  Sometimes in September I slowed down the running a bit and began to breathe a little deeper.  I’ve also added a few items on being-kind-to-myself-agenda amidst all the running.

My 2011 word is faith – believing that everything will turn out just the right way, the way it meant to be without the extensive running.  I’ve been practicing faith for awhile but in 2011 I want to fully embrace it and have faith that the universe has my back.

December 2: What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

E-mail and internet procrastination!  That has always been the two things I go to in order to avoid writing.   I cannot eliminate it for good but I can turn of the WiFi for two hours a day to just write.

December 3: December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).  

There was one moment when the time stopped and the only thing that existed were the things around me.  I don’t remember the details but I remember the feeling of gratitude of being alive and the feeling of being completely in the here and now.

December 4: Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

Through nature and really engaging with nature in simple ways.  For instance, when walking the dog, I’d very consciously NOT look at my smart phone and check messages but take in what surrounds me – the sound of the waves, the breeze, the trees.  Just being with nature for those short periods of time would fill me with wonder.

December 5: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

I let go of my expectations towards one of the projects I was running and I let go of my ego’s expectations on this project.  I decided to remember that the universe will deliver me the result I want, but it may not be in the way I willed it – and I am willing to accept it now in any form it comes.

More to come…

Remember we are still registering for the Expat Club: 10 Weeks of Wisdom program. It has been specifically designed around expatriate issues and concerns and it’ll help you feel supported, encouraged, and inspired. Sign up here.

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!